Kulturgrenzelos brings people together
In mid-March, it’s minus five degrees and there’s a blizzard- surely no one is going to leave their house? Think again, because Kiel offers some events even in bad weather, for which it is worthwhile, to don a cap and scarf and venture into the snowstorm.
Today on the program: Dabke. Which did not mean anything to us at first. The Syrian folk dance is not only suitable for ambitious dancers but is also a great opportunity to become active in a group and meet new people. About 20 young people from different countries and cultures have knocked the snow off their shoulders and participated in the open offer. The mood was incredibly good and whether you could move gracefully or not, it didn’t matter. The fun and the common activity was in the foreground here and the two dance teachers always made sure that everyone comes along.
Over 600 tandems
Cultural exchange and meeting people is what the organizers are all about. We are talking about kulturgrenzenlos e.V., an association committed to an open and tolerant togetherness. First and foremost, this is done through the mediation of so-called tandems, in which Kielers and refugees are brought together for common recreation and cultural exchange. The tandems do sports together, celebrate, dance, play music or go for a walk – same as what you can do with other people. For the refugees, this is a great way to get to know Kiel and Kielers and is also a way to improve their knowledge of German. For the German participants it’s an opportunity to get to know nice, interesting people and cultures and do their part to reduce prejudices and to integrate the refugees into our society.
How successful the project is can easily be displayed by numbers: more than 600 tandems, so over 1200 people, have been brought together by kulturgrenzenlos e.V. In a survey in December 2017, around two-thirds of tandems said they were now friends with each other. Also, many report that entire common circles of friends have developed, joint housing associations have been founded and even new projects have emerged from the tandems, such as the “La Cultura” organization, which also works in many ways for integration and cultural exchange.
One can easily guess why the project is so successful when they come into contact with the association: The ideas that are represented here are not just clauses in the articles of association. They are lived! The positive mood that is spread during Dabke dancing was also evident in our first meeting with Judith, Lena and Faissal, who gave us an intensive insight into their work and the club in an interview. The three employees had their first touch points with kulturgrenzenlos e.V. when they signed up for tandems themselves. However, they wanted to get more involved beyond this and are now bringing the club forward with great dedication.
In addition to the tandems, they organize a variety of different offers, some of which are specific to the tandems, but are often open to anyone interested. In addition to Dabke there are music classes, women’s meetings, joint cinema visits, sporting events and much more. Especially in summer you can look forward to outdoor activities such as barbecuing or gardening together.
Just join in
The project holds a lot of potential and was even nominated as the only project from Schleswig-Holstein for the German Integration Award 2018 of the Hertie Foundation. And there is still room for improvement: at the moment there are about 150 refugees on the waiting list for whom no suitable tandem partner has yet been found. So if you are interested in cultural exchange and in nice, interesting people, you can easily register via the homepage of kulturgrenzenlos e.V.
Text: Max Ihle
Fotos: Max Ihle/kulturgrenzenlos